If you’re like me then you probably hate conflict.
It’s nasty, messy and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
From a management point of view if there’s conflict in the workplace then I feel I have failed (because I probably have)
But it happens, and sometimes, despite your best intentions it can’t be avoided.
So what should you do?
It’s not conflict – it’s communication
Number one has to be to talk with the other person
So often conflict is just a matter of miscommunication.
A misunderstood email
A misunderstood intention
Speak with the person and I’d say 70% of the time it can be cleared up really quickly.
Understand the other persons’ POV
Sometimes conflict arises simply because two people have a different point of view on a particular event.
I remember a row that started because a fellow manager had moved someone’s desk.
The person involved thought they were being pushed further away from the manager because they were being ‘eased out’
The manager thought they’d like a desk closer to the window!
(this is genuinely a management failure)
Find common ground
It’s important to build bridges, so discuss areas where your thoughts overlap.
You’ll probably find that actually you agree about most things but it is just a couple of points that might cause issues.
Agree on a priority list
Look at the areas of disagreement and decide which things are the most important to solve.
Agree between you what things are actually important to deal with and what things don’t matter in the cold light of day.
Apply the 12 month test – ask yourself “Will this matter in a year’s time?”
(note this isn’t the same as ignoring it, see below)
Then prioritise which things you absolutely need to get done and…
Work on a joint action plan
Agree ways in which you will make things better.
This is the tricky bit mind you.
It will involve compromise and swallowing your pride.
But you can do it, and your life will be better as a result
Remember – keep your eyes on the prize
Things not to do
Don’t belittle their opinion or feelings
Don’t generalise (“you always do this”)
If you’ve setup a meeting to discuss the issue the DON’T cancel or rearrange
And most importantly
DON’T IGNORE IT, IT WON’T GO AWAY!!!
Things to do
Maintain a collaborative approach
Focus on the future
Listen carefully to what the other person is saying then
repeat back what you think you have heard and check that your understanding is true
Make sure you jointly celebrate successes along the way
Isn’t life too short to spend time arguing?
Wouldn’t things be much better if you could just get on with it?
If you are a manager then sorting this out will be to your credit
If you are managed then I can promise you’ll be more respected for the mature way you handled the situation
And one final thought.
There have been people who I have worked with that I have loathed initially but actually, after working with them in this way we have become firm friends.
Everyone can use more friends.